Best Daypacks for Travel – How to Choose Your Daypack for Traveling –

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Searching for the best daypacks for travel can take some time. After all, there are so many great travel daypacks that it’s hard to know which one will be best for you. For example, are you looking for the best daypack for travel in Europe during the winter? That might be different from the best travel daypack for backpacking through Southeast Asia. Here are some tips for choosing the right daypack for needs.

COVER Choosing a Daypack for Traveling - Best Daypacks for Travel & More

Best Daypacks for Travel & More

It used to be easier to choose a daypack for traveling. I mean, there were like a dozen to choose from, and most of them had the same features. It was like there was one daypack for traveling, or maybe three. They seemed to have the same pocket design, and the same four or five colors. Nowadays, the best travel daypack may be different for everyone. For example, one daypack for travel may have specialized features for hiking, such as a reservoir sleeve and clips for a hiking pole. In contrast, a different travel daypack might be designed for gadgets, laptops and all the wires that come with them.

Choosing your best daypack for travel depends a lot on where you’re going and how you’ll use it. That said, I think that the best travel daypack is generally small, lightweight and versatile. That means that some of the best daypacks for hiking can also be used for a holiday in Spain. Or the best laptop bag can also make great carry-on luggage for a month in Chiang Mai. In the post below, I break down some of the best daypacks for women, men, and children. But before that, let’s look at the features to look for in a travel-ready daypack.

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Best Travel Daypack Designs

The best daypack for travel varies from person to person. For example, the best daypacks for travel with a laptop might be different than the best daypacks for hiking and camping. That’s why I’ve divided up the best daypacks below into a variety of subsections.

Best Daypacks for Hiking

The best hiking daypacks are designed for walks in the outdoors, but they also make some of the best daypacks for traveling. In fact, many of the features that make them great for the trail (lightweight, waterproof, etc) make them great for the road as well.

Osprey Packs Daylite — Best Daypacks for Hiking

Osprey Packs Daylite — Best Daypacks for Hiking

Osprey makes some of the best daypacks in the business. With that in mind, consider the Daylite, one of the top travel daypack designs thanks to its utility and weight. You get a hip strap and a sternum strap. And like most Osprey packs, there’s a safety whistle built into the sternum strap. There’s also an inside pocket for a water pack or other important items. Exterior compression straps keep everything stable and close to your body. The Daylite packs down small and fits easily into many larger bags for later use.

Check Prices: Osprey Packs Daylite — Best Daypacks for Hiking

Deuter Airlite 22 — Best Hiking Daypacks 

 

Deuter Airlite 22 Ultralight Day Hiking Backpack - daypacks for travel

Originally designed for the trail, the Deuter Airlite 22 is one of the best daypacks for hiking and traveling in rough and wet terrain. The zippers and ripstop fabric are water-resistant and the built-in rain cover provides an extra layer of protection. It has a flexible steel frame to help with ventilation on your back. That means it doesn’t pack down as small as some of the typical daypacks for traveling listed here. Yet if you plan to cover some hard territory then this is one of the best hiking daypacks for you. The shoulder straps are ventilated as well, and I like the pockets in the waist strap.

Check Prices: Deuter Airlite 22 Ultralight Best Hiking Daypacks

Gregory Inertia — Best Daypacks for Hiking 

Gregory Inertia Day Hiking Backpack - Best daypacks for hiking

Planning on long hikes in hot climates. The Speed Lite 30 is one of the best daypacks for hiking there. The Inertia comes durable and well-ventilated in the back and shoulder straps. A 3-liter water reservoir comes included, but two stretch-mesh side pockets can hold water bottles if you prefer. The back stretch-mesh pocket is secure and gives you quick access to go-to items like maps and an extra later. 

Check Prices: Gregory Inertia Day Hiking Backpack

Best Daypacks with a Laptop Sleeve

Who doesn’t travel with a laptop or tablet nowadays? Not everyone wants to carry their computer with them all the time (me included). But for many people, the best daypack for traveling must have a place for electronics. Here are a few of our favorites.

Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack for Traveling

Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack - Best travel daypack with a laptop sleeve

The Daylite Plus is a great travel daypack thanks to extra storage space and versatility. Like the smaller Daylite model, the Daylite Plus has stowaway straps. These make it easy to carry on either your shoulders or in your hand. Yet this Daylite moel can hold seven liters more than its predecessor and has more advanced storage. For example, the padded inside pocket holds up to a 15-inch laptop. I also like what Osprey calls a “shove-it” pocket on the exterior. It’s a great spot for quick-access items like maps, a travel jacket or umbrella. In addition, the Daylite Plus can attach to several larger Osprey backpacks. This great 2-in-1 feature is a great advantage for backpackers.

Check Prices: Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Travel Daypack

Osprey Packs Nebula Travel Daypack

Osprey Packs Nebula Daypack - Best travel daypack with laptop sleeve

If you want to stick with Osprey but need something bigger, then this is the best travel daypack for you. You get the same Osprey level of design and quality, but with more features and carrying capacity. The Nebula has a TSA-approved laptop sleeve, as well as a nice “shove-it” pocket with a clip to hold it in place. It stands up on its own, which is nice when waiting in lines at the airport. This is a 34-liter bag, so it holds a lot more than most of the travel daypacks listed here. Yet it can still fit under an airline seat when not stuffed to capacity.

Check Prices: Osprey Packs Nebula Travel Daypack

The North Face Recon Backpack for Travel

The North Face Recon Backpack - Best travel daypack with laptop sleeveThis 30-liter laptop bag from Northface is a great travel pack thanks to comfort and pocket design. I like the side pockets for water bottles and umbrellas, as well as the lined sunglass pocket for easy access. The organizer pocket is also great for travel documents. The back and shoulder padding is quite good for a travel daypack in this price range. And despite being a 30-liter travel daypack with a laptop sleeve, it still flattens out nicely if you want to store it.

Check Prices: The North Face Recon Backpack for Travel

The North Face Unisex Vault Backpack

The North Face Unisex Vault Backpack - best urban daypack

Slightly smaller than the Recon Daypack mentioned above, the Northface Vault is a great urban daypack. We like the injection-molded shoulder straps and padded mesh back. Also nice is the padded top handle making it comfortable in your hand and on your shoulders. The laptop sleeve is also well-padded and fleece-lined. Two nice side mesh pockets hold water bottles securely.

Check Prices: The North Face Vault Urban Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack for Traveling

Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack - Best daypack for travel

Another sleek and lightweight daypack for traveling or hiking. Unlike the Airlite 22 above, the Speed Lite has a thin waist strap that is detachable. There’s only a minimal wireframe as well, which means it can also pack smaller. There is one main pocket with a U-shaped zipper and a sleeve to put a tablet, a small laptop or a hydration pack (not included). A top stash pocket with key clip gives you quick access to small items. Stretchy side pockets can hold smaller water bottles.

Check Prices: Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack for Traveling

Gregory Compass 30 Travel Backpack

Gregory Compass 30 Travel Backpack - Best daypack for travel with laptop sleeve

Unlike most of the best lightweight daypacks listed here, the Gregory Compass 30 is both a backpack and a duffel bag. Instead of top-loading like most backpacks, the Compass 30 opens from the side and back. Padded sleeves fit your laptop and tablet.

Check Prices: Gregory Compass 30 Travel Daypack

Fjallraven – Kanken Classic Backpack 

Fjallraven - Kanken Classic Backpack  - best lightweight daypack

Changing little since it was first designed in the late ‘70s, the Kanken was first made for schoolchildren in Sweden. Today it remains one of the best school bags and the best daypacks for travel. The design is simple yet functional. For example, two side pockets hold water bottles, while a back zippered pocket holds quick-access items. The large main pocket has a sleeve that was first designed for a seating pad (included). But now it can hold up to a 15-inch laptop. A great daypack for travel with kids, but adjustable for adults as well.

Check Prices: Fjallraven – Kanken Classic Daypack for Travel

Best Travel Daypacks for Kids

Many of the best daypacks mentioned above will fit a teen and some younger children. That said, if you’re looking for the best daypack for traveling children, then here are a few we recommend.

Deuter Junior Kid’s Daypack

Deuter Junior Kid's Backpack - Daypack for traveling with kids

Well ventilated and comfortable for long walks, Deuter’s junior-sized travel daypack for kids does well on the road. Padded shoulder straps and a sternum clip mean kids can comfortably carry a heavy load. Two side water bottle pockets mean they stay hydrated. Compression straps keep everything tightly packed or simply keep a jacket handy.

Check Prices: Deuter Junior Kid’s Daypack

Osprey Packs Pogo Daypack

Osprey Packs Pogo Daypack - Best daypacks for hiking with kids

Osprey makes some of the best travel daypack designs for adults. But they also make some of the best daypacks for traveling kids, as well. The Pogo Daypack has good side pockets for water bottles, as well as padded handles on the top and back for easy hand-carry. There’s also a lined sunglasses pocket and a padded sleeve for electronics.

Check Prices: Osprey Packs Pogo Travel Daypack for Kids

JanSport Superbreak Ultralight Backpack/Daypack

JanSport Superbreak Backpack Ultralight - best urban daypack - Best daypacks for hiking with kidsBack to basics here with Jansport. Makers of the classic back-to-school backpack, Jansport is the best travel daypack for kids who don’t need specialized pockets or tactical features. It’s a 25-liter daypack with two main compartments. The main storage area and a secondary zippered pocket for smaller items. It’s 600-denier polyester which means it’s tough, water-resistant and collapsible.

Check Prices: JanSport Superbreak Ultralight Kid’s Daypack

Best Packable Daypacks for Travel

If you’re really packing light or planning to travel carry on only, then the best packable daypacks are a great way to go. This kind of travel daypack folds into a small pocket and weighs almost nothing. That way it fits easily onto any other bag or luggage you have. The drawback? Most packable daypacks have very little padding and tend to be less comfortable after prolonged use.

Osprey Ultralight  — Best Packable Daypacks

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack - Best packable daypacks

Weighing less than 4 ounces, Osprey’s Ultralight stuff pack is an excellent daypack for traveling light. It folds up into its own carrying case smaller than my fist. It has one side pocket but no sternum strap. Holds 18 liters. I gave one of these to my son before he left for his first solo trip in Europe, and I’ve since used it myself for day trips to Kyoto and around Osaka. It’s super light yet tough against tears and punctures. Like all of the best packable daypacks, it has no inner frame but it folds up so small that now I keep it usual daypack as a backup in case I need to stop at the store or carry something large home. 

Check Prices: Osprey Ultralight — Best Packable Daypacks

Eddie Bauer Stowaway  — Best Packable Daypacks

ddie Bauer Unisex-Adult Stowaway Packable 20L Daypack - Best packable daypacks

This 20-liter packable daypack is made from durable 200-denier ripstop fabric. It’s sturdier than the Osprey and has nicer side stretch pockets for water bottles. Yet it’s a little heavier and larger as well. It folds in on itself and into a bag about the size of a hamburger.

Check Prices: Eddie Bauer Stowaway  — Best Packable Daypacks

Outlander — Best Packable Daypacks for Travel

Outlander Packable Handy Lightweight Travel Hiking Backpack - Best packable daypacks

This 35-liter collapsible backpack is made from water-resistant nylon. It holds a lot more and has more compartmentalization, yet only weighs 7 ounces. On the other hand, it doesn’t fold down as small as the other foldable daypacks for traveling cited here. It also comes with a carabiner.

Check Prices: Outlander — Best Packable Daypacks for Travel

Gonex Ultralight Packable Travel Daypack

Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack - best hiking daypacks

This 20-liter stowable daypack is made from water/tear-resistant nylon. There are two inside zipper pockets and one exterior pocket for quick-access items. Two side mesh bottle pockets as well. All this and it weighs less than 7 ounces and folds up to the size of a peanut butter sandwich.

Check Prices: Gonex Ultralight Packable Travel Daypack

The Best Travel Daypack Features

Each daypack for travel has its own special set of features, but many of the best travel daypack designs share these in common. Here are a few of the features to look for when choosing your daypack.

Size, Shape & Weight

The best travel daypacks should be small and light enough to wear all day. Ideally, they should also be narrow on your back for more freedom of movement. Each pack on my list is under 35 liters. Many are just 20 liters.

Packability

You’re probably not going to wear this pack all the time. Therefore it’s nice to know that it can fold up or pack down into any larger suitcase or backpack you’re taking along. Otherwise, you’re stuck holding it even when you’re in transit. The best daypacks for traveling can roll up, flatten out or fold in on themselves in order to fit into larger luggage.

Outer Straps, Clips & Loops

The best daypacks for travel may be small and has limited storage, but they provide exterior ways to extend their capacity. For example, compression straps let you attach a fleece sweater or a yoga mat. Tripods, too. Webbing loops and Daisy Chains let you hook additional things to the outside, such as a mug or a pair of boots. I clip a few carabiners to the outside of my daypacks so I can always hook something on or even hang my pack from a fence or pole.

Then there are chest straps and waist straps. These are there to help distribute the weight of a bag. They’re great if your bag is large and heavy, and/or you plan to hike for miles with it on. But if your bag is small and light, then look for travel daypacks without a waist strap or one that is removable or stowable.

Inner Sleeve

Most of the best lightweight daypacks also have a padded sleeve in their interior. Sometimes this is designed for a reservoir pack, which is great for staying hydrated on the trail. Other times the sleeve is designed to hold a tablet or laptop. Usually, however, it works for both…not at the same time, of course.

Side Water Bottle Pockets

For my personal daypack for traveling, I think it’s important to have a place for water. I don’t use hydration units or other water bags that insert into backpacks, so I always want a place to hold a water bottle. Not all daypacks have them, and some that do have very narrow pockets that are only wide enough for a typical PET bottle. Do you carry your own bottle or want something that can accommodate larger canisters? If so, then check the specs of the pack of your choice.

Quick Access Pocket

Most daypacks for travel have some exterior pocket for go-to items like maps, keys or a raincoat. They’re usually easy to open and close, using materials like velcro, clips or elastic mesh.

Rugged, Waterproof Material

A daypack for traveling must be ready for the elements. Rain and other forces of nature shouldn’t get access to your things that easily. The best travel daypacks are made from rugged, rip-stop fabrics. Some are coated with water-resistant material, as well.

Comfort and Ventilation

The best daypack for traveling is only as good as how long you’re willing to wear it. That’s why the best daypacks tend to have well-padded straps and good ventilation. The area where your back touches the pack may have special material or space that helps your skin breathe.

Reflective Elements

This isn’t the most important element in the best travel daypack but it’s a nice addition. Reflective elements on the front and back ensure that cars can see you after dark. This is especially important when traveling with kids.

A Good Warranty

If you buy a daypack for traveling, then it’s nice to know that the maker stands by their product. Many of the best daypacks for travel come with a lifetime guarantee, but not all of them. Some are for six months or a year. Either way, it’s important to check the warranty before buying it.

What’s the Best Travel Daypack for You?

Did you find your best daypack for travel here? Which one? Or what features are you looking for?

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you buy the best daypack for travel from the list above using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find the best travel daypack for you. 

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